Saturday evening round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesJust a few things that caught my eye as the day went by:

In one of his weirdly counter-productive defenses of Hillary, Bill said that there was nothing wrong with her — except that it took her six months to recover from her head injury after her fall.  That’s a serious recovery time.  Even when my mom fell and gave herself a brain bleed, once she had surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain, she recovered in much less time than six months.

People are carping at Rove for putting this issue out there, and I concede that he did it inartfully, but the public should be apprised of the status of Hillary’s brain in the event she runs. Much as the media may pretend that it’s still 1960, when they successfully covered up Kennedy’s serious illness and drug use, the internet gives the people a voice on important subjects such as a potential president’s physical and mental health.

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All of my local Dem friends trust Jerry Brown, so I’m sure that they’re all good with him saying that, insofar as the new Bay Bridge span apparently has a serious design flaw, no one should worry. Maybe we shouldn’t, or maybe he’s just rearranging the deck chairs….

I’m not so sanguine about bridges in our earthquake rich territory. When I’m on them, I invariably drive too fast so that I can get off them as quickly as possible. I also have two of these in my car, in the unlikely event that I survive the moment (God forbid!) when my car plunges into the Bay.

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Despite the fact that Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann sued Mark Steyn for daring to question his intelligence and veracity, Steyn has not been cowed. He’s not only counterclaimed, he also continues to challenge Mann’s “climate change” data, using the ever-increasing number of stories about failed predictions, hidden data, and McCarthyism. He’s at it again, in a wonderful post that touches upon the latest McCarthy-ite moment that proves that “climate science” isn’t a science at all but is, instead, a faith.

Incidentally, while you’re visiting Steyn’s site, if you have some change rattling around in your pocket, please consider donating to his legal defense fund. He’s fighting the good fight, but even the staunchest warrior needs cash.

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I like Alex Trebek (that’s what thirty years of watching Jeopardy will do to you), so I was very pleased to see that he’s come out in favor of the Redskins keeping their name. His common sense, though, isn’t why I’m linking to this particular article. Instead, please note that, just as Voldemort’s name must go unspoken, so too has the Redskins’ name been stricken from the lexicon. That’s how you end up with incomprehensible sentences such as this one, quoting Trebek (who was making sense when he voiced it): ““They weren’t called the [WFT] because we thought [WFT] were terrible.”

Huh? WTF is a WFT? It turns out that an WFT the one and only “Washington Football Team,” formerly known as the “Redskins.” I preferred “the artist formerly known as ‘Prince.'” It had more of a ring to it.

We live in ridiculous times.

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Andrew McCarthy is never better than when he’s writing what is essentially a prosecutor’s opening brief. And so it is with this article he wrote about the IRS scandal, a scandal that grows with every document produced. I, of course, will remind you all again that I said early on that the IRS scandal was the worst scandal ever in American history and I stick to that — especially as it’s becoming increasingly clear that this exercise in banana republic governance had its genesis in D.C., and quite high up in D.C. (as in “close to the President”).

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The Left is starting to realize that both the IRS and the Benghazi scandals hit way to close to the President for anyone’s comfort (well, the comfort of anyone on the Left). That’s why the Financial Times announced today that the worst scandal for the President is the VA scandal (you know, the one where VA hospitals have been killing veterans by ignoring them to death). The VA scandal is heinous and disgusting. It stands as a savage indictment of both socialized medicine (which it is) and the American bureaucracy . . . but it doesn’t go up to the White House. Claiming that it’s the worst scandal for Obama is a red herring.

If you think I’m wrong about that interpretation, just consider the first paragraph in the FT article, which expressly warns people away from the genuinely serious stuff (emphasis mine):

Amid contrived outrage over Benghazi and the improving fortunes of its healthcare reform, the Obama administration could be facing a genuine scandal about its treatment of military veterans that has the potential to attract broad political condemnation of its competence.

That’s not journalism. That’s crisis management for the White House.

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My husband brought the movie Philomena home from the library yesterday. I was going to write a scathing review, but I see that Kyle Smith got there before I did.

Even if every word of Philomena was the God’s honest truth (which apparently is not the case), it still is a nasty movie. The thing about movies such as this is that all nuns get tarred with the same brush. Think about it: If you see a movie about a woman who is a bad mother, or a bus driver who is rude, or a doctor who commits malpractice, you don’t immediately indict all mothers, bus drivers, or doctors. But a movie about bad nuns somehow creates the belief that all nuns are bad.

While I may be Jewish, I have a deep respect for nuns. During WWII, Belgian nuns sheltered my Jewish grandmother at great risk to themselves.  Moreover, when my mother was in the Japanese concentration camp, the Dutch nuns she was imprisoned with were gracious to all, including the Jewish prisoners. My mom still speaks fondly about their cheerfulness and helpfulness no matter how bad the circumstances were.

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And finally, would the Atlantic have Photoshopped a picture of a watermelon into an article about Thurgood Marshall? I don’t think so. But they were willing to do this. Hey, isn’t that microaggression?

Does Obama’s interview about Israel reveal a president who has finally broken free of reality?

Young Obama Young Bibi and Bib NetanyahuMano a mano, I’d bet on Netanyahu against Obama every time.  Nation to nation, though, Bibi has the misfortune to be facing off against a spoiled, Leftist, anti-Israel, pot-smoking adolescent who nevertheless controls the world’s greatest military and economic power.  I’m still betting on the Israelis, but it’s not a no-brainer — especially because Obama appears to have reached his conclusions by ignoring stubborn facts and, instead, substituting data that is entirely unrelated to any facts on the ground.

I bring this up because, although the headlines are about Ukraine, no Jew who cares about Israel can have missed Obama’s truly dreadful interview with Jeffrey Goldberg. In it, he made clear that, as far as he’s concerned, the only thing stopping Middle East peace is Israel’s peculiarly stiff-necked intransigence.

To reach this conclusion, Obama shows that he is as delusional about the Muslim Middle East as he is about the rest of the world.  In Obama’s world, Israelis have no interest in peace.  It is, instead, the Palestinians (who strongly support terrorism, who voted for Hamas when they had the chance, who celebrate Jewish genocide, who have never complied with past “peace” agreements, who openly demand a world without Israel, and who have refused to negotiate without preconditions by which Israel gives up her nationhood) who are chomping at the bit to get to the negotiating table.

Don’t take my word for it about Obama’s twisted view of the Middle East.  After you’ve read his own words, check out John Podhoretz’s masterly deconstruction of Obama’s fantasies — as well as his take on Obama’s threats.  It remains to be seen whether Obama’s fact-free preemptive strike against Israel bear fruit in the complacent media.  (I can’t believe I said that.  Of course they’ll bear fruit.)

Caroline Glick, a strong, logical, fearless voice for conservative Israelis, hitback swiftly, telling Obama that his threats cannot frighten a nation that has seen much, much worse.  She also took the time to expose some of Obama’s more reality-challenged statements.  Sadly, I don’t think anyone in the White House is paying attention to Glick.

I don’t expect the administration to pay attention to a Jew.  The administration likes only deracinated Jews who have replaced obedience to God with obedience to the Democrat party.  But maybe the Obama administration should listen to one of Islam’s most prominent spokes people.  Anjem Choudary is clear about the existential inconsistencies between Islam and the West:

 

If you don’t recognize Choudary’s name, Jim Hoft fills you in:

Islamic hate preacher Anjem Choudary blamed Lee Rigby’s murder on British foreign policy.

In 2008 Choudary gloated over the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

[snip]

Anjem Choudary is a British-Pakistani, who lives on social welfare funds and supports jihad. Choudary takes in a reported sum of £25,000 ($37,770) per year from the British welfare program while soldiers earn only $24,000 a year. Something is wrong with the system.

I used the words “delusional,” “fact-free,” and “reality-challenged” to describe Obama’s approach to the Middle East and even included a link to a Washington Post editorial calling his approach to Ukraine a “fantasy.”  Up until this past week, I would simply have said that Obama has long lived in a Leftist bubble, which has guided his practical and moral approach to the world.  Those weren’t delusions, but grave ideological errors.  This past week, though, we are seeing Obama trading in his foul ideological glasses (which distort everything on which they focus) for actual delusional facts.  Has the bubble gotten so thick about him that our president is literally becoming deranged?

Pot can do that to you, so I’ll leave you with the very surprising words that came out of Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown of California, when asked about  his enthusiasm for legalizing pot in California (emphasis added):

Well, we have medical marijuana, which gets very close to what they have in Colorado and Washington. I’d really like those two states to show us how it’s going to work. The problem with anything, a certain amount is okay, but there is a tendency to go to extremes, and all of a sudden, if there’s advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? World’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we needed to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the pot heads might be able to put together.

When cutting the budget, should the government cut back hours or cut out jobs entirely? *UPDATED*

Here in California, faced with a devastating fiscal crisis, Gov. Brown is talking about cuts.  If I were in charge, I’d cut out whole departments and agencies because they’re inefficient, redundant, unnecessary, or entirely inappropriate uses of taxpayer funds. Or within departments, I’d simply do a “rip off the band-aid” approach and fire some employees entirely.  It would be painful, but the department would be pruned and the fired employees wouldn’t be in workplace limbo.  Instead, they could get on with their lives.

Gov. Brown, however, is going a different route, at least for some things.  Rather than get rid of entire departments or entire employees, he’s proposing cutting back on hours — and pay with it.  This means that a government office that was open five days a week will be open only four days a week.  Everyone working in that office will take a 20% pay cut.  That’s a big cut.

Two questions for you:  First, from the employee’s point of view, would you rather be laid off, making a clean break, or would you prefer to have a 20% pay cut in exchange for a much shorter work week?  Second, from the taxpayer’s point of view, do you think it’s better to get rid of whole programs or clumps of employees, or do you think it’s better to cut back on everything at once by shortening hours and pay?

UPDATE:  Here’s an email from someone with a personal insight into government employment:

May I suggest you consider one other little item?  Ask the employees what they think.  My wife works for the Cal State system ; they were confronted with something similar a few years ago.  The union was asked whether or not they’d like to accept fewer hours/lower pay or some number of layoffs (by seniority, of course).  They voted for the reduced hours by a fairly large margin.  Never came to fruition, but the peons seemed pretty well to know the right answer.

Remember, once you lay off all those folks, you just put them on the unemployment rolls for 99 weeks, then … Given our “business friendly” climate, what do you think will happen?

Something to consider.  State employees are human beings too.

State employees are definitely human beings, and I respect the ones who work hard and provide real services. Their views do matter, although I would never deny the government the right make raesonable and appropriate, albeit painful, cuts to the job roll.

California’s new banking regulator, Teveia Barnes, is smart and accomplished, but views the world through a racial prism

Jerry Brown has nominated Teveia Barnes to be the new commissioner for California’s Department of Financial Institutions.  This means that she is the ultimate regulatory authority for more than 300 California-chartered banks and other financial institutions.

Barnes has an impressive resume, including a lengthy stint as associate general counsel and senior vice president at Bank of America.  This is a woman who knows banks.  Before law, she was a serious academic at Rice, which is a serious school.  She graduated in 1975 with a triple undergraduate degree in economics, German studies, and poly sci.  She then got her law degree from the New York University Law School.  She entered law school in 1975, which was a time when law schools were finally acknowledging that women were part of the legal package.  Those women I know who graduated from law schools back then had a tough time.  They were not made to feel welcome.

In addition to her solid academic and professional resume, Barnes is also a committed Democrat.  Or at least she’s become a committed Democrat since Obama’s rise.  From the years 2000 to 2007, she made $500 in donations to Democrat groups.  Beginning in 2008, and continuing through to this year, her donations totaled $12,500, all to Obama’s campaign, Obama’s PACs or general Democrat groups.  She made herself visible and Jerry Brown responded.  That’s fine.  That’s how politics works.

The one thing that concerns me is that, for the past 13 years, Barnes’ has committed her life to the diversity industry.  She comes to her government job from a long stint as president of Lawyers for One America.  In many ways, just as Barnes is exemplary, so too is the organization.  One of its major goals is to see that minorities in America get good legal representation, something that is often achieved by encouraging high powered lawyers and law firms to take on pro bono work.  The other major goal, however, is simply the usual diversity business:

The lack of meaningful diversity in the legal profession is a grave issue directly related to opportunity.  While people of color comprise approximately one-quarter of the American population, just 10 percent of the legal profession consists of people of color.  Attorneys of color comprise just 3 percent of attorneys in law firms, traditionally the centers of power in the profession.  LFOA assists in increasing the percentage of lawyers of color in the profession. This work helps provide economic opportunity to those to whom it was previously unavailable.

In other words, this is all about affirmative action.  What the affirmative action mavens refuse to acknowledge is that affirmative action doesn’t necessarily serve minority communities well.  The communities get lawyers but, sadly, they don’t always get good lawyers.  Instead, they get lawyers who have been pushed into and through the system because of their race.  Some of them end up doing very well, of course.  Others, well, not so much.  Putting people in over their head means that a few of the strongest will swim, but most will drown.

Despite statistical evidence showing that affirmative action probably ran its course about thirty years ago, Barnes and her group think that professional profiling (Is someone the right race?  Is someone the right sex?) is the only thing that matters when it comes to ensuring good lawyering for minorities:

Ms. Barnes said the legal profession in general is behind the times when it comes to promoting women and people of color. She believes the dominance of white men in the legal profession hurts all of society because minority attorneys are not readily available to provide volunteer legal-aide services.

“For women and lawyers of color, it is difficult for them to have that added time to do that pro bono work that I would otherwise hope they want to do, because they’re struggling with their careers,” she said. “They’re working twice as hard to just maintain their career, to just showcase what they can do, and to prove their value to the organization. And so they have to be pretty well established before they’ll risk doing the pro bono work that all lawyers should be doing.”

This obsession with race and gender strikes me as peculiarly antebellum South.  It’s as if America’s blacks internalized entirely the old Southern message about white male superiority, and black and female inferiority and then, 150 years later, regurgitated it, only backwards.  It was a horrible, limiting, prejudicial attitude back then, and it’s just as bad now, even with the roles reversed.

My concern as a citizen of the once great state of California is that Barnes’ racial and gender blinders, blinders just as thick and distorted as those worn by a Southern planter back in the 1850s, will lead her to make impositions upon and demands of California’s financial institutions that have nothing to do with good financial practices, and everything to do with advancing an antiquated view of humans, one that sees them controlled and limited by their skin color or sex.

I hope that Barnes, with her impressive academic and professional background, will be able to overcome her own prejudices.  I’m not sanguine, though, given that the last twelve years of her life have seen her completely submersed in the racial diversity machinery, one that believes that government’s job is to give minorities a helping hand, and to give whites, especially white men, the back of the hand.